Oxford University Hospitals.

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We spoke to Claire Boba, Project Lead: Learning Technology at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to find out how her team used Think to create a better experience for learners and admin teams dealing with continuous professional development.

About Oxford University Hospitals

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) is a world-renowned centre of clinical excellence and one of the largest NHS teaching trusts in the UK.

It is one of the UK’s largest teaching hospitals and is made up of four hospitals – the John Radcliffe Hospital (which includes the Children’s Hospital, West Wing, Eye Hospital, Heart Centre and Women’s Centre), the Churchill Hospital and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, all located in Oxford, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, north Oxfordshire.

The Challenge

Continuous professional development (CPD) is an important part of the development of OUH’s clinical staff.

Related: Read the complete guide to continuous professional development

It is also a key part of ensuring the Trust is delivering care in line with its visions and values. However, the processes are bound by strict budgets which they can’t over- or under-spend.

As such, the CPD team needed to be able to track who they were giving money to, how much and how often. On top of that, they needed very specific information for NHS England. This needed to evidence how the money is being spent, which providers were being used, which staff groups the money was being spent on and how close the Trust are to hitting the set budget.

OUH is a very large Trust with thousands of staff eligible for CPD Funding. As such, the team must track spend from lots of different places and given that the training is often provided by external training suppliers, it often results in a data gap.

This was resulting in a significant administrative burden for the team that often led to extensive chasing for information and inaccurate data. It also made it difficult to ensure that the right amount of budget was being spent by each department as they had little to no confidence in the data available.

Related: 9 key benefits to continuous professional development

The Solution

The OUH team reached out the Think Learning team as they were already working with us for their LMS.

They described their challenge to us, and our solution consultants came up with SkillFund.

This was going to be a central resource for the CPD team to: create budgets, plan spend early in the year, for learners to search and apply for courses and for managers and education leads to review and approve requests for CPD funding.

Claire said, “Overall, it was a really good, positive and engaging process. Think’s team, in particular Tim and Louis picked up what we needed and created something really positive for our whole organisation.”

SkillFund works as follows:

oxford university hospitals solution to continuous professional development requests

The Result

SkillFund’s dashboard has allowed the OUH team, and crucially, the education leads both divisionally and locally to better track how much has been spent and how much is left.

It’s a much cleaner and more informative interface than spreadsheets and the data is live offering one central source of truth.

It enables both learners and managers to track the progress of funding requests in real time with many automated notifications, providing total transparency to all involved.

Claire added, “One of the major benefits of SkillFund is having all of the information that NHS England ask us for in the quarterly returns available in one download. It makes it really easy to provide what they need within the deadlines they provide.”

“We know everything from what provider, staff group, quarter, course and so on. It’s really easy to export it and send it out.”

Now, the team has a central hub of courses, that they can add to and edit, which learners can browse, just as they do for their normal LMS courses. This also allows them to have better control of the quality of training learners complete, as they can ensure they’re recommending the best providers.

So far, nearly 4,000 fully trackable CPD application forms have been created by learners and directed to the right people for sign-off with automated notifications to the relevant stakeholders.

£1.8m of traceable planned spend has gone through SkillFund, all of which has been reviewable by the various budget holders and reportable.

Learn more about SkillFund and how it can support you to deliver external training budget management.